Little know fact: Judge Christopher Kulik once aspired to be a deadly woman.
They are history's most horrifying women!
A Minnesota doctor is responsible for the deaths of 40 young women via a fasting regimen. Booted out of the Army for psychological reasons, a woman goes on a shooting spree at a Pennsylvania mall. In the early 1980s, a Texas nurse murders up to 50 infants by lethal injection. Police charge a Florida prostitute for killing seven men so she could financially survive with her partner. What do all of these cases have in common? As Deadly Women: Seasons One And Two documents, they were all women in history who snapped, became sociopaths, and developed an appetite for murder.
This 2-disc DVD set from Image Entertainment has both "seasons" of the digital cable program. This is an odd series in that the first season (which aired in 2005 on the Discovery Channel), is made up of only three episodes, making it a mini-series of sorts. In 2008, the show was revamped with the music and title sequence slightly altered. The first season focuses on women from the past, but the second shifts to contemporary cases. Both, however, are a mixture of interviews and re-created footage, and the cases themselves are separated by different themes. Here's a rundown of the episodes:
I was drawn to this show simply because of its subject matter. In the news, we hear of few women caught and convicted of a heinous crime, but as many shows like Deadly Women have shown in recent years, the number is substantially larger. A similar program is Snapped (on the Oxygen Channel), which profiles many women who intentionally (or unintentionally) murdered spouses, boyfriends, or family members for a wide variety of motives. According to Deadly Woman, female killers tend to be more educated and intelligent, with poison as a popular method for dispatching their unsuspecting victims. Arsenic is a common choice.
Unfortunately, Deadly Women doesn't fall in the same league as Snapped. The problem lies not in the material but in the presentation, as this show relies heavily on re-enacted footage to tell each of the stories, with almost no input from families or victims directly involved. Pretty much all of the interviews are conducted with police officers, criminal specialists, and journalists. Not that these interviews aren't substantial, but the viewer is kept at a distance because of the lack of other legitimate sources, such as photographs, newspaper articles, and media footage. Furthermore, the narrator insists on introducing each of the women and explaining their dastardly deeds before even telling the whole story. The series also tends to repeat information and jump back and forth between numerous events. In not allowing the stories to speak for themselves, this maneuver botches whatever suspense is built. The re-enactments themselves damage the potential even more, mostly due to laughable "close-ups" of the criminals, and the endless staring-coldly-at-the-camera shots. In shows like Unsolved Mysteries, event re-creation was never this pretentious, and it's clear the budget on this series was not very high because of its tendency to repeat file footage.
Still, there are enough compelling profiles here to make Deadly Woman worth a look. There's the unusual case of a woman named Eugenia Falleni, who posed as a man in early-20th century Australia and murdered her wife to protect her secret. There's the disturbing story of a woman in Oregon who attempted to murder all three of her children so she could enjoy her sexually promiscuous life. One unique tale talks about a real-life vampire who murdered victims for their blood, thinking it would keep her young and beautiful. The first series presents many women in the 17th and 18th century who have become legends in certain circles. One prominent speaker is Candice Delony, a criminal profiler whose discourse is so stimulating she should be doing audio commentaries.
The digital cable channel Investigation Discovery now broadcasts Deadly Women and, evidently, Season 3 has already been produced. Image Entertainment presents the show in 1.78:1 anamorphic Widescreen. The prints are exceptionally clean, what you might expect for a relatively new program. Grain and dirt are kept to a minimum, and flesh tones are accurate. The DD 2.0 Stereo tracks are palatable, with the narration and interviewee comments perfectly understandable. English SDH subtitles are provided, however, which is nice. Special features are regulated to only about 22 minutes of deleted scenes, which were all culled from the Season 2 episodes.
Despite much potential, Deadly Women is found guilty of a lousy and
tiresome format, though Delony is free to go for her invaluable input.
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